Jury trial ordered for guard accused of sex with inmate
Portland — A jury trial has been ordered in a civil case involving a former jail guard accused of having sex with a Washington woman while she was incarcerated at the Knox County Jail.
The plaintiff filed a federal lawsuit in July claiming a jail guard coerced her into having sex with him. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Portland, seeks $300,000 in punitive damages, plus attorneys fees, interest and costs. The corrections officer accused in the case is listed as a defendant, and the lawsuit cites Knox County Sheriff Donna Dennison for failing to prevent the incidents.
The woman involved was incarcerated at the jail in the maximum security unit from November 2011 to April 2012, according to the lawsuit. It claims she was coerced into having sex or engaging in sexual touching on at least three occasions while she was in custody.
The man listed as a defendant in the case is no longer employed by the jail, said Dennison.
He is not being named as he has not been charged with a crime. He is represented by Portland attorney John J. Wall III.
The defendant denies all allegations of the suit and his response, filed Sept. 11, states he acted in good faith and without knowledge that his conduct violated any clearly established constitutional or statutory rights of the plaintiff. It further contends the plaintiff's own conduct was the sole or a contributing cause of her injuries.
He is also seeking judgment in his favor, with the court awarding him attorney fees and other relief.
The lawsuit states the guard admitted to the sexual acts in an email to the inmate after she left jail.
This sexual contact constitutes unlawful sexual touching and unlawful sexual contact under Maine law, according to the suit. The lawsuit cites this as a violation of the Maine Civil Rights Act.
She is also stating this constitutes excessive force and cruel and unusual punishment violating the fourth, eighth and fourteenth amendments to the constitution.
The jail's leadership is cited for failure to train staff appropriately and prevent the incidents. The suit claims corrections officers have reported concerns about male officers having sex with inmates to their superiors, and states that other instances of this activity have taken place, once right across from the control booth at the jail.
In July, Dennison said the plaintiff's damages were caused by the acts of another individual other than herself, and further contends the plaintiff fails to state a claim for punitive damages against her, according to court documents.
The Washington woman who has filed the lawsuit is represented by three attorneys: William Maddox of Rockland, Paul J. Greene, of Portland, and Eric M. Mehnert, of Bangor.
The case will be ready for trial by June 2014, said the order, issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge John H. Rich III.
Courier Publications' reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at email@example.com.
594-4401 ext. 118
Juliette primarily covers the cops and courts beat for The Courier-Gazette.
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